Asparagus, charred lemon cream, pangrattato, and bottarga

Spring is a great time to get into the kitchen and start having fun with the bounty of new season fresh fruits and vegetables. One of my favourites is the humble asparagus. Australian Asparagus is much loved for its lightly sweet earthy quality, interesting shapes and fresh bright colour. The name comes from the Greek word “asparagos,” which means “to spring up”. Unsurprisingly, it’s readily available during spring and amazingly versatile. Asparagus boasts many health benefits; it’s a great source of antioxidants including vitamins A and E, perfect to help the body fight free radicals. Additionally, it’s rich in dietary fibre, aiding in regular digestion whilst assisting in the absorption of nutrients.

Steamed, grilled or pan roasted spears are a delicious way to incorporate more veggies into your diet. This asparagus dish is great served as an entrée or side dish with fish, chicken, or lamb. It showcases new season asparagus but can also be made using other vegetables such as grilled broccoli, zucchini or green beans depending on the season. It also features Bottarga; a great sustainable product made from mullet roe. Alternatively, Gaia vegan parmesan or parmesan cheese can be used to replace bottarga. The charred lemon gives a nice smoky flavour to the dish, while the bottarga adds a layer of umami richness. Sunflower seeds are a great nut alternative for making flavoured creams, or substitute for cashews or macadamia if you prefer.

Let’s get cooking ~ Asparagus, charred lemon cream, pangrattato, and bottarga

Serves 4

3 bunch Australian asparagus

20g grated bottarga or parmesan cheese

2 slices sourdough

Wedge of lemon

20ml olive oil

50ml sunflower oil

Salt and pepper

¼ cup seasonal herbs

Charred lemon cream:

1 cup sunflower seeds

11/2 tbsp. yeast flakes

1 tbsp. kefir water

1 tbsp. verjus

100ml chargrilled lemon juice

Vegetable stock or water (approx. 100 ml)

Salt and cracked white pepper to taste

  1. Firstly, soak sunflower seeds in water for 6 hours. Alternatively, boil seeds in water for 15 minutes.
  2. Slice the lemons in half and chargrill on the BBQ or in a pan on high heat until blackened. Once cooled juice lemons using a citrus juicier.
  3. Drain sunflower seeds from soaking liquid and rinse until clean. Process in a blender with all ingredients except vegetable stock. While blending add the stock until a smooth puree is formed.
  4. For the pangrattato (toasted breadcrumb) blend bread in food processor until bread crumb consistency.
  5. Heat 50ml sunflower oil in frying pan and add the breadcrumb and pinch of salt. Fry until golden brown then place on paper towel to drain and cool.
  6. Bring water to a boil in large pot with 1 tbsp salt. While heating cut the bottom inch of asparagus off and discard.
  7. Once water is boiling add asparagus and boil for 2-3 minutes then strain.
  8. To assemble, place 1 large tablespoon of sunflower cream on plate followed by asparagus. Then sprinkle with pangrattato and grated bottarga. Finish with fresh seasonal herbs, olive oil, wedge of lemon and salt and pepper.

…Buon Appetit!
Mitch, Gaia Culinary Team